Strategic Planning for Christmas

After months of research and planning, it’s almost time for the implementation of the ‘Christmas Strategy’.

Planning for Christmas with a toddler is like a military operation, it takes careful planning and timing to execute a successful day.  So I thought I’d share with you my list of reasons why planning for Christmas is like planning a Public Relations campaign.

1. Research is key

This includes speaking to other stakeholders (parents), desktop research (flicking through the Argos catalogue) and speaking to your target publics (asking your child what they would like off Santa).  It also consists of assessing your current situation and asking yourself important questions, such as:

How much space do we have in the toy cupboard?

Will Penny actually use this, or just play with the box?

Creating a situational analysis is essential for any parent wanting to get through the holidays in peace.

2. Planning is essential

Organising a timetable is a requirement for Christmas in our house to run smoothly.  Our family is huge and we have to co-ordinate visits to and from parents, grandparents and extended family.  I usually start planning an itinerary after Halloween so that people know where they stand and I have a clear idea of what I need to achieve and by when.

3. Stick to your budget

I often make the mistake of buying on impulse, especially so close to Christmas.  Don’t be drawn in by additional extras.  The reason that campaigns have budgets is to make them realistic and within the organisation’s means.  There is no point splurging extra on presents if you can’t afford the wrapping paper.

4. Crisis management

Your long lost auntie has just turned up on your doorstep, you don’t have a gift for her, what do you do? I tend to keep an emergency stash of generic presents and spare Christmas cards just in case.

Whether it’s a forgotten gift or burnt turkey, always have a contingency plan.

5. Sit back and evaluate your hard work

Now it’s time to relax, sit back and enjoy the event that you helped to create. If anything goes wrong, then you’ll know exactly what to do for next year….


The Best Christmas Adverts 2015

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week, you’ll have noticed the barrage of Christmas adverts hitting our TV screens and social media.  If you’re a massive Christmas fan like me you’ve already watched all of the Christmas films that Sky have released on demand and are now getting your fix by singing carols in the car on your morning commute.

In case you have been living under a rock, here’s a run down of my favourite Christmas adverts so far this year.

5. Not On The High Street

I’m not usually a fan on obvious adverts, sometimes I feel a bit patronised by retailers who think I’ll buy their products if they show me them in a nice setting with a catchy jingle.  However, I think this year’s Not On The High Street Christmas advert is very true to brand.  I’m a big fan of the company as I like to make my gifts personal, and I think their unique service comes across well in their advert.  Also, their boo to consumerism and down with ‘the man’ edge speaks to the rebel in me.

4. Waitrose

Now the Waitrose advert for this year is exactly what I just said I didn’t like, commercialism at it’s finest.  However, when competing with the Christmas bigwigs, such as John Lewis and Marks and Spencer, I think the way they released their ad this year was quite clever.  As well as the obligatory grand unveiling, they released several teaser clips (including the one below) on their YouTube channel, to heighten the anticipation of seeing Heston dusting his pies.

3. Lidl

I love a funny advert, and Lidl’s Christmas campaign this year really spoke to me. Their clever use of Christmas struggles that every family faces really resonates with me, and it definitely stands out in a saturated marketplace.  The fact that they’ve backed up their advert with real tips and recipes on their website is a really clever touch (I can’t wait to make these Reindeer cupcakes with Penny).

2. John Lewis

I know, I know, how is John Lewis only my number 2? The retail giant is renowned for their clever use of advertising around Christmas and this year’s advert was highly anticipated.  It ticks all of the boxes for me: wide eyed little girl (check), stripped back vocal of an indie classic (check), moralising Christmas to make me feel like a bad person (check).

The reason it hasn’t made it to my number 1 is that the advert feels incomplete for me.  Why does the little girl give the man on the moon a telescope? Now he can only watch and not interact, which is way worse. Surely a walkie talkie or even a tin can on a piece of string would have been a better present?

My main gripe with the advert for this year is that it’s a partnership with Age UK, highlighting the loneliness some elderly people feel at Christmas time.  A worthy cause.  However, I found this out by reading the papers, not through the advert itself.  Where is Age UK’s logo? Or the information at the end of the advert informing people of how they can help/donate? If people have to go into the shop before they realise the partnership exists, then for me it’s not doing it’s job of promoting the charitable goods their selling as part of their campaign.

1. Burberry

I’m not usually one for high-end, everyone who knows me knows that I love a bargain and sometimes have to get creative with my Christmas gifts. That being said, I’m in love with this Christmas advert from Burberry.  Not just because it celebrates the 15 year anniversary of Billy Elliot (filmed in my area), or because it features some of my favourite celebrities (HRH Queen Walters), but because it’s so upbeat.  I don’t feel guilted into buying anything, or moralised, and it doesn’t feel like they’re pushing their products into my face.

It just makes me feel happy, and that’s all I can ask of a Christmas advert.

Tis The Season To Make A Profit

Today I’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning of Christmas.

With just a few days to go until the big day the shops are filled with frantic mobs, rushing to buy the latest games consoles, Disney merchandise and enough food to feed an army.

BBC News reported that this Saturday, dubbed “Panic Saturday” by researchers, Britons will spend an estimated £1.2 billion on gifts and groceries (full story here).

Christmas Shoppers on Oxford Street, London (Image courtesy of The Guardian).
Christmas Shoppers on Oxford Street, London (Image courtesy of The Guardian).

I’m literally scared to go out and buy a pint of milk.

So what changed? When did Christmas become more about money than tradition?

As far back as I can remember we’ve always made a big deal out of Christmas in my family, being taught that it’s more important to spend the holidays having fun with the people you love rather than spending money on things you don’t need, especially when there are people on our doorstep that don’t have that luxury.

Now that I have a toddler I understand the way that parents feel when they want to give their child everything they can, even in these troubling financial times. I’ve probably spent more than I should on gifts and toys this year, but now I’m starting to feel guilty about the excess. Especially after seeing this campaign by the homeless charity Crisis.

This advert really touched me, far more than any other Christmas advert released by organisations aiming to make a profit over the winter season, including M&S, Sainsbury’s and John Lewis.

For the price of a doll, a decent bottle of liquor, a dvd, or half the price of a new Xbox game, you can give necessary comfort and a hot meal to someone really in need.

That’s why instead of buying my little girl this doll

Singing Elsa doll. £25 from The Disney Store UK.
Singing Elsa doll. £25 from The Disney Store UK.

…I visited the Crisis website and bought a Christmas dinner for a homeless person for the bargain price of £21.62.

This Christmas I’m moving to bring back tradition and start looking after each other instead of lining the pockets of retail giants.

I’m hoping this post will move people to reconsider their priorities over the festive season, start a new tradition, help a friend or neighbour or just make more time for the people who matter most to you.

If you would like to make a charitable donation The Big Give is a great website that let’s you search for charities based on your interests and location.

Thank you for reading and MERRY CHRISTMAS!